First record about Porkhov fortress was made in Novgorod's chronicles in 1239. Knight of Novgorod Alexander Jaroslavovitch ('Nevsky') established the trade way along Shelonj river from Novgorod to Pskov by building of small wooden strong points. Porkhov fortress was one of them. Its fortifications consisted two lines of earthen ramparts and ditches and wooden wall above the ramparts.
In 1346 Great Lithuanian knight Olgerd invaded the Novgorod's territory and took by storm fortress Luga and Shelonj and sieged fortress Opocka and Porkhov. Porkhov stood it's first test. Lithuanians got the war indemnity in 300 rubles from the fortress and got away. In 1387 new stone fortress was erected on the right bank of Shelonj river. The fortress had four towers. Towers had 15-17 meters height and 4-6 wooden levels and walls had 1.4-2 meters thick and 7 meters height. The towers pushed out from the wall's line and could flanked the approaches to the walls. All building works were finished within a year.
July 1428 Lithuanian knight Vitovt besieged the fortress. It was the first siege in Russia with mass artillery shelling. The fruitless siege endured 8 days and fortress was badly damaged. In 1430 the big reconstruction was in the fortress. Thick of it's walls was increased considerably up to 4.5 meters at the most dangerous parts. The gates of the fortress were reconstructed too - the portcullis were arranged.
After seizing the Novgorod and Pskov territories by Moscow in 1478 and 1510 the state border was moved to the west far from the fortress. There were not any storms and sieges of Porkhov from this time. It's fortifications lost it's value soon and preserved till nowadays not disturbed by later rebuilding and reconstructions.
The trade city appeared near to the fortress. In 1776 it became the area administrative center. Rapid city growth begun in 1890s after the railway Pskov-Dno was built. The fortress ruined gradually as long as some repair works were held in 1912.
During the WWII Porkhov fell under German occupation for 4 years. Nikolskaya church in the fortress was in action during the war. It's abbot father Pavel was linked with partisans and provided shelter for escapees from German POW camps. February, 1944 German troops burnt the city and gone away.
Now Porkhov is one of the small Russian provincial cities. There few old city buildings preserves. The fortress is restored partly. The wall along river bank is reconstructed and could be observed, but towers are still in the ruined condition without roofs and floors and could be visited only by your own risk. There are the little local museum and nice botanic garden inside of the fortress. Nikolskaya church which was closed in 1930-th is on the duty now.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.